Camilo Mejía is a writer and political activist who has been active in the U.S. social justice and antiwar movements for many years. Born in Managua in 1975 to Sandinista parents, Camilo grew up in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the United States, where he joined the military at age 19.
In January of 2003, having served as an infantryman almost to the end of his military contract, Camilo was stop-lossed (held in the military past his eight-year agreement against his will) and two months later he was deployed to the Middle East to participate in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, a military endeavor he opposed.
While serving as an infantry squad leader in ar Ramadi, the capital of the al Anbar Province, Camilo participated in missions and witnessed events that violated international law and that, in some cases, amounted to war crimes and torture. His on-the-ground experience, along with his initial opposition to the war, led him to publically refuse to return to his unit in Iraq after a two-week furlough in the United States. In May of 2003 Camilo was found guilty of desertion by a military courts-martial, and sentenced to 12 months of incarceration at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His conviction prompted Amnesty International to adopt him as a prisoner of conscience, the first in the U.S. since the Persian Gulf War, and to launch an international campaign demanding his safety and immediate release.
Upon his release from prison, in February of 2005, Camilo became an active member of the antiwar organizations Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, eventually serving as board chair of the latter for two years. Camilo’s Iraq war memoir, Road From ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía, tells his story from birth to the reading of his sentence at his court-martial, detailing his conversion from a battle-tested infantry squad leader, to an antiwar activist and conscientious objector. The memoir was published in hardcover by The New Press (2007), and in paperback by Haymarket Books (2008), and was reviewed by leading American activists and writers, and by all four major literary review magazines in the U.S.
Camilo has been involved in a wide variety of social justice campaigns and movements, including the antiwar movement, the immigrant rights’ movement, the campaign to end violence against women and girls, and many more. He writes Op-Eds and political analysis articles about Veterans Affairs, Moral Injury and PTSD, U.S. intervention in Latin America, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and many other issues. He resides in Coconut Grove, Florida with his teenage daughter Samantha.